Thankfully, the UK's doorstep recycling collections are getting better all the time, and there will be even more (e.g. metal, wood) at your local rubbish tip, but recycling still uses up valuable resources, so it's better if we can re-use if possible, but how? Plus there's still plenty of stuff for which there's no recycling facility, or obvious re-use. What about them?
Well, here are a few ideas we've come across:
Unfortunately, polystyrene is not biodegradable, and although it can be recycled with other plastics, this is not a service currently offered domestically in the UK. What you can do with your polystyrene though, is reuse it:
- Break it up, or use the little peanuts, in the bottom of your plant pots to hold a small reservoir of water.
- Keep it for kids craft projects - they're bound to think of a use even if you can't!
- Re-use it for packaging your own parcels, or pass it on via Freecycle.
- Ask any small local businesses you know if they can use it for sending parcels out.
- Use it as insulation for seedlings in cold frames or the greenhouse.
You know those little net bags your fruit and veg come in? Don't throw them away! Either just scrunched up, or if you can be bothered hemmed round the edges, they make great pan scrubbers - great for any burnt bits, dried on bits and tea/coffe marks in your mugs. You'll never need to buy a scourer again!
Wires on Kids Toys
It is a constant source of amazement to many that even the smallest child's toy has so many plastic ties anchoring it to its cardboard packaging. What to do with them? Don't throw them away!
- Use them in the garden for tying up your beans/sweet peas/sunflowers etc etc.
- Use them to re-tie bags of frozen peas etc in the freezer.
- Strip the plastic coating off and use them to repair the contacts points in anything which has been damaged by corroding batteries.
Don't waste money buying storage jars, especially plastic ones, keep your old jars - and their lids - to store dry goods in instead. See if there is a Weigh & Save or similar near you where you can buy flour, sugar, nuts, dried fruit, even cat biscuits in bulk without any packaging - just take along your own containers, or buy them in a plastic bag then decant when you get home.
If you're feeling more crafty, you can make lovely decorated jars with glass paints, or turn them into pretty tea light holders. You can even make your own snow globes!
These are of course ideal for crafts, and I'm sure many of you already cut the nice bits out to reuse as gift tags for Christmas and birthday presents. But how about helping your child make an ABC book, using different pictures for each letter? Or a collage of everything red or purple? They are also great for making some fun festive bunting, either for birthdays or Christmas. See our list of charities that accept used stamps.
You can find lots of other reusing and 'upcycling' ideas over on my Projects Pinterest board, for example, I'm loving this mini greenhouse, made from unwanted CD cases, idea right now.
You can find out more about your local recycling schemes through the Recycle Now website.
And don't forget to enter our competitions!